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Anton Kabanen (Beast In Black)

Interview with Anton Kabanen from Beast In Black
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 14 December 2017, 6:36 AM

After leaving BATTLE BEAST in 2015, mastermind guitarist Anton Kabanen formed a new band called BEAST IN BLACK.  Their debut album, “Berserker" hit shelves in November of 2017.  It is an extension of the sound, Anton sculpted on the first BATTLEBEAST album but with new elements thrown in.  The album received a glowing review from us at Metal Temple, and writer Justin Wittenmeier was recently able to speak to him through email.

Before we begin, I want to congratulate you on BEAST IN BLACK’s debut album, “Berserker”  I received the promo to review and, well, it really is a crazy, straight up balls to the walls heavy metal album, something I think the world needs more of. Obviously leaving BATTLE BEAST was probably rather emotional. Upon leaving them, was there ever a point where you almost said forget it and decide to just quit the music scene?  Were you at any point disillusioned with the industry or was this more of a disappoint on a personal side of things with your former teammates?

I had my doubts about will I be able to make a good new start after what happened but luckily I can say I have never considered quitting music and I always have had something on my musical radar. The drive and the passion has been there since day one. So when things started to go really bad with BB in 2014 and it was obvious that the situation was not going to change for any better I started to think what is the next thing I choose to do. And since I felt that there's so much more I want to do in this style of music it was only natural to continue with what I started in BB.

How as the response been from the metal community been, from those that worked with you during your days with your former band?  Has every one been real supportive?  How about the fans?  I imagine you can’t please everyone but I’m assuming they understand what is going on and why you are doing what you are doing.

The feedback's been better than I or any of us could have expected, both from the fans and the people I've worked with in the past. All in all friends, fans, family, collegues, label and our management have all been very kind and supportive indeed. It's been a great start for us and we will keep on working hard to have the greatest possible future for BIB.

BATTLEBEAST is well established with four albums already under their belt, have you had any trouble within the industry  or organizations viewing you as more of after thought to them in terms of finding places to visit for touring purposes? Is there the feeling of having to fight to get out of their shadow, despite the fact its your own shadow?

On the contrary. My connection to BB has only brought good for Beast In Black. And we have the best team in the world that works behind the scenes for BIB so things are going rather smoothly actually.

I’m also curious about how well established musicians make it after they leave another band or start a new project.  When you started BEAST IN BLACK did you have to prove yourself to any record execs or call in any favors to get noticed?  Hopefully, your name alone had the labels coming to you!

We were fortunate enough that we didn't have to go fishing so to speak. We did our best and hoped that Nuclear Blast and BIB will make a deal after the album is ready. Luckily they liked the album and the cooperation could begin. Working with them is great. They do amazing job and they really take care about their bands which I knew of course from the past already. But to have a fresh new start with a new band and the best label in the world is one of our dreams that came true.

All the musicians on “Berserker,” go above and beyond with their performances.  Soon as the idea to form another band started filtering through to you, did you immediately know the players you wanted to surround yourself with?  Was having a female vocalist ever a consideration, as a sort of extension of BATTLE BEAST’S format or were you just wanting to find a solid vocalist, regardless of gender?

The line-up shaped up quite fast since most of the guys were my friends from the past so it was pretty clear to me who I wanted to ask. Yannis was the new guy. But with him it also happened quite fast that he agreed to join this new project that I was getting started with a few years ago. When choosing the right singer for the band gender has never played a role to me. The essential thing is to be a good and solid heavy metal singer. I know what my compositions require from a musician so I chose my team carefully. And in addition to that I also wanted to have a band where the chemistry between the band members is good and that we would share enough of the same values and priorities in general.

Even moreso than your previous works, I sense a lot more power metal in “Berserker,” which is a great thing of course.  With that being said, “Berserker,” really sounds like an extension of what you started with BATTLE BEAST.  From the beginning, was this your idea to continue said direction?  You never considered doing another type of style?  For Berserker’s future albums do you see yourself continuing in the same vein?  “Crazy, Mad, Insane” in particular features elements that I never thought would work for metal but you pulled it off so well.

We wanted to have enough interesting mixture of songs and didn't really think of the “style”. If the wholeness of the album feels good than we go with that. All the songs are written straight from the heart and to me personally that is the ultimate guideline. If it's not from the heart it's not gonna be on the album. We are essentially a heavy metal band so that's what people can expect from us and that's what they will get in the future too; solid heavy metal with some flavours from different styles. And thank you, I'm glad to hear you like Crazy, Mad, Insane. To our surprise many people from the metal scene actually like that song too. It feels very rewarding when you do something new and out-of-the-box and it gets accepted and sometimes even praised. We couldn't ask for more.

The production on “Berserker,” is superb.  Any plans to continue your role as a producer, not just for BIB but for other bands, at some point down the road?

Thank you again. I'll produce the next BIB album too and actually I'm now also co-producing my friend's album. So yes, I see it possible that I'd produce more albums in the future for other projects and artists. It's refreshing to work on someone else's songs and not just on your own compositions. You'll also learn that way something new in the process which can be of use for your own material in the future.

The album’s lyrics  are full of variety; several of the songs are inspired from your love of anime…any chance of a future album telling the story of one?  As for the rest, it seems some of them are of a personal nature, such as Born Aagain.  Was writing some of these songs almost a cathartic experience that helped with leaving BATTLE BEAST?

The problem in making a concept album based on just one anime/manga story is that there's always other topics and themes on my mind that I wanna write about as well. But maybe someday it could happen. It could be a nice new challenge to keep the focus for example purely on “Berserk” manga. And yeah, songs such as “Born Again”, “Blind And Frozen” and “Ghost In The Rain” are personal but these particular songs have absolutely nothing to do with my relation to BB. Anyway, writing about personal things is natural for any artist or songwriter and it's inevitable that their works reflect their inner world. That's a way to deal with some issues as well. So of course to some extent there are metaphors and expressions in the album's lyrics which are connected to my relation with BB.

Thanks so much for your time, Anton!  We at Metal Temple wish you continued success and look forward to the future of BEAST IN BLACK!


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Edited 26 March 2023

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